Health gains by using natriuretic peptides in diagnosis, prognosis and treatment

Mark Richards, Richard Troughton, John Lainchbury, Rob Doughty, Sue Wright
Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation. Supplementum 2005, 240: 129-37
The cardiac natriuretic peptides, and in particular plasma levels of the B-type natriuretic peptides, are acknowledged biomarkers of cardiac function and prognosis in cardiovascular disease. A growing body of evidence confirms plasma BNP and/or NT-proBNP are independent predictors of mortality and/or heart failure events in acute heart failure, established chronic heart failure, acute coronary syndromes and even in asymptomatic but at risk populations. Alongside this large body of associative observational data, there is a growing evidence base from controlled trials which indicates that knowledge of plasma B-type natriuretic peptide levels can be translated into improved clinical outcomes. Measurements of NT-proBNP improve diagnostic accuracy in patients presenting with heart failure in the community. Provision of plasma BNP data improves speed of diagnosis and reduces rates of hospital admission in patients with heart failure presenting with breathlessness (all whilst reducing overall costs). A randomised pilot study demonstrates serial measurements of NT-proBNP can assist in more effective optimisation of heart failure pharmacotherapy with a concomitant improvement in outcome. This finding has been corroborated by a recently reported multicentre study. Screening for left ventricular systolic dysfunction in the general population or in asymptomatic subjects at high risk of cardiovascular events appears to be cost-effective. This developing evidence base from controlled trials encourages further implementation of plasma BNP and/or NT-proBNP in diagnosis, risk stratification and management, not only of acute and chronic heart failure but also in those with coronary disease and asymptomatic subjects with cardiovascular risk factors.

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